Ye olde Celtic Festival | TheUnion.com

Ye olde Celtic Festival

David Gaines
Special to Prospector

Much of America's rich musical heritage comes from the British Isles — most notably Ireland — where sprightly jigs, reels, and hornpipes had their origin.

This Celtic cultural phenomenon would eventually evolve into Appalachian mountain music, country, and bluegrass — a major contribution to American music.

The 2017 KVMR Celtic Festival and marketplace offers not only great Celtic music, but also a Renaissance village faire atmosphere, great food, unique merchandise, and patrons and performers in authentic costumes sporting ancient regalia.

The 21st annual Celtic Festival will be in full swing Friday through Sunday.

On Friday at noon, camping opens, and events start at 3:45 p.m. and go to 11 p.m.

On Saturday the gates open at 10 a.m. and music ends at 10 p.m.

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On Sunday, the gates open at 10 a.m. and music ends at 9 p.m. See: http://www.kvmrcelticfestival.org

The premier festival usually draws between 6,000 and 7,000 people to the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley for incredible music featuring hundreds of musicians that will perform on eight stages.

The Main Stage will host many of the best Celtic musicians and bands on the world stage. And it's the biggest single fundraiser for KVMR Community Radio every year.

"It's important to note that this festival would absolutely not happen without the hundreds of volunteers and dozens of producers that dedicate themselves to making this weekend successful," said KVMR general manager Julie Chiarelli.

"There are festival details more plentiful than one can imagine, both for the producers and the performers. And three cheers for these artists that are brave enough to run the gauntlet of U.S. visas, tax laws, and other touring logistics," Chiarelli said.

Chiarelli said that KVMR works very hard to bring an eclectic mix of Celtic music to the prominent event.

"Every year we do our homework with an artistic committee to source the finest Celtic musicians available," she said. "With eight stages of music throughout the festival, we are able to present a nice mix of traditional and contemporary music for our festival-goers."

The music

The KVMR general manager mentioned that the backbone of the festival is their long-time musical artists.

"Our traditional artists, including John Whelan, Story Road, Cassie and Maggie MacDonald bring haunting airs and ballads to the forefront," Chiarelli said proudly.

"Many of our returning artists bring a wealth of Celtic world-class performances to our stages from their many years of touring," she said. "The newer artists interpret the traditional music through the lens of these varying genres."

As usual, this year's Celtic Festival will be a festive musical celebration with return appearances from many festival favorites, and the introduction of many exciting new bands.

"The Celtic Festival has become an annual touchstone for our community," festival director John Taber stated. "There are families that have made the festival an annual gathering, and people who came to the festival as children that are bringing their own kids now."

Mainstage musical headliners this year include seven-piece Scottish band Skerryvore, Calan, Eamon McElholm & Johnny B. Connolly, Cassie & Maggie MacDonald, Story Road, The Fire, John Whelan & Low Lily, and The Screaming Orphans.

Skerryvore, one prominent headliner, is a band of young Scots that have performed in over 25 countries worldwide.

"With five albums into their recording career, the band has progressed from a standard issue Ceilidh (dance) band to a world-class Celtic-rock band," according to Northern Sky magazine.

"Calan brings together the remarkable talents of five young musicians giving a fresh and vibrant sound to traditional Welsh music," KVMR literature reports. "With a contemporary and lively approach they breathe new life into the old traditions through their sparkling melodies, foot tapping tunes, and spirited and energetic performances of Welsh step dancing."

The Screaming Orphans — an all-sister band from Bundoran, Ireland — is a festival headliner.

They are a prominent Celtic band with a powerful sound that combines original, old-school pop songs with their unique, modern take on traditional Irish music.

"We're also featuring The Screaming Orphans, a listener and festival-goer favorite," said Chiarelli. "The band hails from Ireland and has breathed new life into traditional songs with their vibrant cross-genre approach."

The activities

With over 50 diverse marketplace vendors, there is great deal of intriguing merchandise to choose from, and many exotic dining opportunities that include an Irish pub.

In addition, hundreds of regional artists will roam the fairgrounds every day — singers, bagpiper players, actors, jugglers, magicians, and storytellers.

Friday is a special day, one that includes ancient pageantry and horseback jousting with the Royal Tournament and Gathering of the Clans. The jousters will use authentic medieval weapons and armor along with colorful heraldry and costumes.

Also part of the Friday festivities will be a free Youth Arts Program, and a Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee) — a Celtic dance party with live music, food, and drinks in Ponderosa Hall.

Many Celtic activities have been scheduled for the weekend events.

For instance, all levels of musicians are encouraged to bring their favorite instruments and join in the many jam sessions and workshops scheduled throughout the weekend.

And history buffs will want to explore several encampments of medieval guilds that recreate ancient arts and crafts.

There will also be many related educational opportunities, including the Celtic Animals exhibit where folks of all ages can enjoy viewing falcons, eagles, hawks, owls, sheep, and ponies.

And amateur and professional athletes alike can test their strength and skills at the Scottish Games, while children will be kept busy with arts and crafts, story telling, and a myriad of performers.

David Gaines is a freelance writer living in Grass Valley. He can be contacted at gvlyspirit@gmail.com.

KNOW & GO

WHO: KVMR Community Radio – 89.5 FM presents

WHAT: The 2017 KVMR Celtic Festival & Marketplace

WHEN: Friday through Sunday. Friday, a free Youth Arts Program, 3:45 p.m. to 7 p.m. A Royal Tournament & Gathering of the Clans — 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. A Ceilidh dance party, 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Seniors are admitted at 9 a.m. on Sunday for complimentary coffee, scones, and preferred seating.

WHERE: Nevada County Fairgrounds, Grass Valley, Calif.

TICKETS: $20 & up – http://www.kvmr.org/celticfestival/tickets.html, or by calling 530-265-9073; Information at celtfest@kvmr.org

WEBPAGE: http://www.kvmrcelticfestival.org